Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Mnangagwa's govt accused of creating criminal gangs

by Makho Precious Moyo
07 Feb 2020 at 20:34hrs | Views
The military-backed government of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa has been accused of having created the menacing machete  criminal gangs that are reportedly terrorizing people in the country's remote gold mining areas and towns when it officially recognised them as Artisanal Miners instead of the informal illegal gold panners.

Over the years the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) descended heavily on the illegal gold miners commonly known as Amakorokoza and brought sanity on the gold mining sector.

However, when President Mnangagwa officially assumed power in mid-November 2017 from the late former President Robert Mugabe, he brought sweeping changes in some of the restrictive laws such as gold panning, public beer drinking, and road blocks amongst others.

The lifting of the restrictive measures in these laws are now haunting the country as road traffic accidents, gold panning and environmental degradation and criminal nuisance have been on the rise due to the relaxation of some of the laws.

Small scale mine owners across the country have lost thousands worth of dollars in processed gold and ore to criminal gangs who have been invading their mines demanding gold, money and other valuables, while other businesses have also been not spared as a result of these marauding gangs who broke into properties stealing anything valuable and beer from their shops.

"When the president declared that everyone was free to mine for gold under his Zimbabwe is Open for Business mantra little did we know that this was going to be the beginning of our problems. So far I have lost more than 20 kilograms of gold ore," said Mpumelelo Sibanda a Miner in Inyathi outside Bulawayo.

Apart from the gold ore he also lost property, production time and worker who were driven out side his mine by the gangs who have since camped at his mine.

"They are here as I speak I cannot drive them out, they said we can share what ever I am getting in terms of gold and openly declared to me that Zimbabwe was open for business and I cannot do anything to them," said Mr Sibanda.

The gangs known as MaShurugwi have become a poser for both the country's security forces and the judiciary as they have become the law unto themselves; there are also fears that they were the ruling party's militia on an intimidatory spree ahead of the country's presidential elections in 2023.

Although special courts have been established to fast track and speedily prosecute the gangs, interference by some senior politicians has seen some the offenders getting released on paltry bail while some were let scot-free putting paid to fears that these were Government-sponsored gangs meant to intimidate people.

Apart from targeting mining areas, the criminal elements are also targeting house holds stealing food, money and other valuables.

"This is a creation of the government and they are now failing to deal with with this menace, what are we supposed to do as law abiding citizens, where are we going to report them. They are now the law themselves," said Mrs Molly Ndimande from Filabusi who lost three goats and a cellphone to the gangs.

However political analysts have blamed the state of affairs to president Mnangagwa's lackadaisical attitude towards the enforcement of laws meant to protect citizens.

"The president has been quite, in Zimbabwe, everyone does what they want, they are hiking prices of basic goods on a daily basis, they just wake up and do what they want, school fees is beyond the reach of ordinary citizens.

"Ministers and members of parliament are looting food aid, money meant for charity is disappearing, people are mining everywhere, the police have been stripped of their powers, drunkards are harassing women and children and he is watching. The wheels have come off this country," said Political Analyst Moses Dube.

Other analysts observed that since Mnangagwa's reign more people have passed on in road traffic accidents, while some man-made disasters have also contributed to the loss of life and limb.

The police have literally been bystanders and watchers while others law enforcers joined in, in the commission of serious crimes such as rape and armed robbery, statistics from the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe have shown a sharp rise in the number of fatal accidents in the past two years most which were as a result of human error and largely due to the non enforcement of road traffic rules by the police.

"The police just stand ad watch, they no longer enforce the law as they used to, some are openly seen drinking beer in public while in their police uniforms, the problem is they feel their powers were stripped from them and they can no longer care. They are also powerless to apprehend the powerful criminal gangs," said one of the victims of these gangs Farai Maphosa of Shangani some eighty kilometres east of Bulawayo.

The mineral-rich Shangani area is rich to some gold deposits and has also been targeted by the criminal gangs who have driven out legitimate mine owners out and have been mining and selling gold to the Reserve Bank subsidiary Fidelity Life without any questions asked about the source of their gold putting paid to fears that the gangs were politically connected.

Meanwhile, the gangs who move in numbers of anything between fifty to hundred descended on some mines in Matabeleland South Province where they have been camping since last week. They reportedly clashed with a group of syndicated war veterans who own some gold claims in the area.

Police, however, could not immediately confirm the presence of the gangs.

For views and comments write to:

Makho Precious, I write my personal opinions as a free spirit standing for human rights and space in society

Source - Makho Precious Moyo